Episode 8: Big Data – The Land of Opportunity

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Date: 16 - 05 - 2019

Dr.. Eng. Ali Mohamed El Khouri

In previous articles, we reviewed the concept of the digital economy as the most important enabler and technological catalyst for the value chain, which is a chain with which the Economic Value Added of goods and services in the production or trading stages is formed.

We also showed that, with the intersection of value chains, they produce a network of economic transactions (Value-creating Networks), which can be termed as the “Demand and Supply Network”, a network that today, thanks to technology, includes most of the global economic capabilities.

But what drives economic value networks? The movement of materials, products and services undoubtedly takes place according to a system that you direct. All value-added actions are carried out in order to meet the demand for them, whether this demand is direct such as a purchase order or indirect such as market expectations. This system that drives the economic value network is represented in the “data and information” that the participating parties in the value-added chains – for each product or service – are keen to collect, analyze and understand as a tool for planning and implementing economic decisions.

As individuals and organizations, we need information in making our decisions, and this information comes from data, which are those single descriptions that describe a reality or situation, such as prices, costs, product names, addresses, and others. By collecting and logically linking such data, it can be converted into useful and valuable information.

And the concept of information, since ancient times, was based on audible or written linguistic dialogue, in which sign language, body language, and other ways of communicating knowledge such as drawings and images are entered. In the past, man realized the importance of recording his thoughts by drawing on the walls of caves and rocks, which developed in ancient civilizations such as the Egyptian and Assyrian civilizations that knew writing and many of its effects are still present in our hands today. This information recorded thousands of years ago is still a goal and a goal for scholars to search, interpret and understand many details about the past and the history of those who preceded in order to seek more knowledge.

Then writing and blogging methods developed to record ideas, science and knowledge and document trade agreements and economic commitments throughout history, and for thousands of years they remained a not easy matter, due to the fact that they depended on manual notation. Extensive in writing, codification and binding. This prevailed until the invention of the typewriter about two hundred years ago, which was considered a huge knowledge revolution that moved humanity a huge qualitative leap. Because of this invention, the possession of books became popular, education flourished, and knowledge spread.

The next qualitative leap was in the fifties of the last century when the invention of electronic computers and the start of recording digital data electronically and the shift in recording numbers, data and information from paper to digital files. At this stage, digital applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning – ERP, banking and government applications appeared in order to take advantage of the supercomputer’s ability to register, calculate and create databases. During this stage, data storage media such as hard disks, magnetic cassette tapes, and floppy disks appeared.

Then we entered the era of the Internet, which began to spread in the early nineties and quickly became the primary means of global communication by the end of this decade, which produced a volume of knowledge and information and transferred digital applications a huge shift, as it became dependent on communication through the Internet and business moved from traditional methods to become the Internet It is the mediator of all this information and databases. This progress was accompanied by a huge revolution in the manufacture and development of integrated circuits built from microconductor chips that enabled the manufacture of supercomputers, as it is sufficient that the digital cell phone that we have today reaches its capacity for a huge electronic computer in the seventies and eighties (Mainframe computers), and the ability to manufacture storage devices has increased. Digital data, and this development is still growing at an exponential rate according to Moore’s Law, which describes that the capacity of a digital machine doubles every 18 months and reduces its size by half.

So how can we envision data growth in the near future? In light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we are on the verge of a new leap in the world of digital data and records, whether at the level of their production, storage, circulation and analysis, and in an unprecedented manner. Banking or corporate, but we are now dealing with very large sources of data produced by the machine that is able to connect to the Internet, record and save it on its own.

These capabilities are manifested in the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT Internet of Things -) in which devices and machines – of various types – connected to the World Wide Web record events designed to measure and send them – such as temperature, blood pressure, car speed, images of faces, humidity level or sounds – this In addition to what mobile phone devices – which are also included in this scope – produce digital records that exceed our imagination and record the unimaginable, and store data and send it to data centers in the form of digital records.

Global statistics indicate that the volume of data is growing at staggering rates. What data has been produced during the past two years alone is equal to 90% of the world’s data; That is, equal to or greater than the size of all the data that humans produced before those two years since the beginning of creation. A recent Forbes article noted that data is still growing at an ever faster pace, and that by 2020, it will generate about 1.7 megabytes of new information every second for every human on the planet.

These simple statistics indicate the accelerating growth of big data globally, which we do not know where its size will reach, and will humanity face a problem in the future in terms of storage requirements, and are we heading towards a period of time that will require us to delete data one day in order to rationalize data, such as rationalizing expenditures?

According to what was published by IBM, the volume of data produced and stored in the year 2020 will be about 40 zettabytes (Zetta Byte), i.e. a number 4 and in front of it 22 zeros, and that this volume of data will be 300 times the data that was available until the end of 2005. Another Harvard study indicated For the same report, explaining that the cost of bad data annually to the United States alone is about 3 trillion dollars, which is a conceptual loss representing 15% of the American economy; It can be converted into useful data if this data is properly used and operated.

Where do Arab countries stand in terms of big data potential? Today’s big data offers a competitive advantage to governments and organizations in the public and private sectors. Although some Arab and regional universities have begun to establish specializations related to artificial intelligence and data science, they are far from meeting the accelerating demands of the labor market. Here, careful and systematic planning is necessary to provide the Arab market with the same competencies and skills that have the same capabilities that are available in professions globally.

Arab governments should take into account their major projects in the fields of big data and ensure the transfer of expertise from international companies to local Arab companies, which can be through contracts of partnership alliances consisting of more than one company and including local companies – which is an important matter for the transfer of international expertise in This field is for our Arab region.

We also need businessmen to realize the usefulness of data and knowledge as a strategic way to develop their businesses and transfer them to new and greater competitive levels, locally, regionally and globally. There is no doubt that investing in big data will have distinct returns in the direction of enhancing the Arab economic reality, especially at the level of public income or the level of job creation as a direct result of the market recovery.

We also see that businessmen and large institutions should compare their societal role against what economic institutions play globally with the developed countries, where we find the latter playing a large and important role in sponsoring emerging companies and entrepreneurs and jointly benefiting from the capabilities of these companies, which are characterized by flexibility and innovation, especially in the fields of modern technology. This role is almost absent in the Arab countries, and it is unreasonable for us to continue to demand that governments deal with this matter individually. Rather, this symbiotic procedure should extend to include private business sectors, and we believe that this important role will have a great return in the development of innovations, software and solutions for the uses of technology, nor Especially big data, which we need to strategically localize this industry in the Arab world because of its great economic and social returns.